I wasn’t going to write an article today, but I’d forgotten I meant to develop one further written a couple of weeks ago.
As is the secretive nature of all things Bernie/FOM many people don’t under stand much about how we view a Formula 1 weekend.
If you’ve been watching F1 like me for 30 years, you will remember the TV coverage of the 70’s and 80’s being not of a particularly high standard. Partly this was due to the technology and its cost. Another factor was, unlike most mainstream sports that compete in a relatively small an defined space eg a football pitch, an F1 race takes place over several square miles. Add to this cars travelling at speeds in excess of 300km per hour and you have a tricky event to capture on film.
Yet these were not only the issues back in the day… Each race was covered by the different countries’ resident TV channels. They were called the ‘host broadcasters’ and naturally if you only cover a sporting event once a year, the specialisation that comes with doing something frequently was missing and the quality of TV production varied greatly from country to country.
Add into the mix each host broadcaster used a local TV director who decided which pictures we would all see. I remember Murray Walker regularly bemoaning a Japanese director following a local driver trawling round at the back of the field, lap after lap – and the same could be said of many other countries where the TV pictures were focused on local interest rather than the ‘happening moments’ of the race.
So, to cut a long story short, ‘Bernievision’(F1 Digital+ 1996-2002) was launched – a digital TV feed provided by FOM at every race that was way ahead of its time, but one which no one would pay for – it failed – but the ground was laid for the “world feed” we all now see.
By 2004, FOM was beginning to assume responsibility for the TV coverage at more and more races, and by 2007 they produced at all circuits except Monaco and Japan (Fuji TV). The production we now all see around the world is called the world feed – and there is one FOM director decides what will be transmitted when.
The good from this was consistency and specialisation that meant the quality of TV angles improved significantly together with many innovations that have provided far more comprehensive TV coverage than we had before. The cost of TV production was reduced, because the TV equipment and personnel now travelled with the F1 circus. The progress was enormous.
F1Fanatic ran an interesting debate recently on Fuji TV losing the right to televise and direct the race. Fan’s were highly critical of the Japanese TV company filming endless laps of Takuma Sato and Koby at the expense of the action. they are also critical of TV angles used to represent the perspective of speed.
Yet in my article “Why F1 TV missing so much action“, I look at examples of quite poor TV direction this year that has become increasingly frustrating. Below, I’ve selected a couple of F1 practice sessions for you to look at from The Digitalspy website. The first is from FOM TV 2001 (the last time they covered the weekend) and follows a Minardi around the track. The second one is from last year and is an example of how FUJI TV set up the camera angles and follows a lap of non-other than – Japanese driver Kamui.
Watch both clips and tell me what you think. We are not debating director race choice of footage, just camera angles, conveyance of speed and a true representation of the Suzuka lap.
Please leave a comment with your observations.
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